The middle section of Valley West Mall in West Des Moines would be refurbished so that store fronts would face toward the parking and street rather than inside the mall. The proposed redevelopment of Valley West Mall, which opened in 1975, would cost an estimated $277.5 million. Architectural rendering by Shive Hattery Architecture and Engineering

Changes will occur at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines regardless of whether a proposed mall redevelopment project is awarded money from a state program designed to help defray development costs, a mall spokesperson said.

"Obviously the money that [the state] is putting forward would be extremely helpful and would catapult us to be able to do the project in a much faster process," said Trisha Barton, the mall’s marketing and communications director.

But, she continued, even if the project is not awarded state money,  "we will have to move forward in some way, shape or form because retail, as it has been in the past, is not going to be in the future. We need to be changing as well."

Last week, details were made public of an ambitious proposal to redevelop the mall site at 1515 Valley West Drive. The proposed redevelopment would include an estimated investment of $262 million by owner Watson Centers Inc., located in Minneapolis. Infrastructure improvements, including development of retention ponds and walking paths, would cost an additional $15.5 million, according to a West Des Moines city document.

The city is one of 10 Iowa communities seeking funding from the Iowa Reinvestment District Program, which allows communities to use new state hotel-motel and sales tax revenue generated by a development to be reinvested in the area in which the development is located.

West Des Moines requested $30 million from the program, which this year has $100 million in which to distribute. A state board is expected to announce in May or June what communities receive the funding.

The pandemic has added urgency to the need to redevelop Valley West Mall, which opened in 1975, Barton said.

"COVID has really hit some of our stores hard and they’ve had to close," she said. "I think we’re going to see some of the remaining stores struggle a bit."

One way to help the retailers is by attracting more potential consumers to the center, Barton said.

The proposed redevelopment plan includes the addition of more than 400 apartment units as well as an entertainment complex that could include movie theaters and indoor and outdoor recreation areas. Also proposed is an outdoor stage and outdoor jumbotron on which football games could be shown as people mingled in a park-like setting.

The apartments and entertainment complex would attract more shoppers for retailers, Barton said.

"We’ve been viable for the past 45 years and we want to make sure that as we move forward, we’re doing our best to continue doing that and continue being a big part of the community," she said.

Related articlesWill J.C. Penney’s store be razed? No, says spokesperson

Details of proposed $278 million Valley West Mall redevelopment revealed